This Is The Year I Embrace Art And Design

Looking back on 2016 and seeing what I accomplished last year, I realize that all of my successes last year were due to challenging assumptions I had about myself. So this year, I’m doing it again. One belief about myself that I am challenging is my long held assumptions about my artistic ability.

My whole life, I’ve been a very analytical, algorithmic person. In college I majored in biology. My hobby-turned-profession is web development, which I use to build and maintain a website where I teach science and logic. Simply put, STEM has been my entire life. This year, I am finally going to embrace art and design.

It is the type of goal that is really hard to measure with some well-defined endpoint, which has been a cornerstone of the goal tracking system that worked so well for me last year. But maybe that is fitting. I might never reach the same skill level as some of the top designers out there, but that’s fine. Perhaps the greatest benefit of art is precisely that there is no endpoint.

If you really think about it, art has a certain kind of Zen to it. How do you master a subject with no definition of what “mastery” actually means? Which, interestingly, is a metaphor for success. Like art, success has no endpoint, so it becomes a lifelong endeavor. But by making it a lifelong pursuit, you remove the upper limit that prevents most people from reaching the highest skill levels. So to reach mastery in art or success in life requires one to acknowledge the fact that there is no mastery. In other words, to break through your limits, you have to realize that those limits never existed.


A Week Without Twitter

I’ve slowly been losing interest in Twitter. It has become a pool of hatred and bigotry, and I find it to be an unfulfilling experience. Even my best tweets ever have given me no more than a shot of dopamine that makes me feel good for a few minutes. But then what?

Last year was awesome for me, and in hindsight I realize that it was because I challenged a lot of my personal views and habits. As a result, I learned a lot about myself and broke out of my boundaries. So along those same lines, I’ve decided to challenge a lot of my habits again this year. One of those habits is my obsession with Twitter.

When I step back and ask myself why I use Twitter, I really can’t come up with a great reason. I don’t have a ton of followers. I use it to get news, but there are other places to get news that are far less time consuming. Sites like Twitter are designed to keep you engaged, not to save you time. A far more efficient way to get my news is through something like Feedly, which keeps everything organized by topic but without the distractions of Twitter. And I certainly do not feel educated or enlightened when I look back at my Twitter activity each day.

So, I’m going a week without Twitter for personal use. I still need to use Twitter for business use, because I have an account for Lernabit. But my personal usage of Twitter has come to an end. I’ll post here each day with updates.

Day 1

I removed Twitter from my phone.

I signed into Feedly to get my news. There was a story that caught my eye. I was stunned when the first thought that came to my mind, before I even clicked on the link, was, “Hey, this would get some likes on Twitter.” I think a common sign of an addiction is not realizing that you are addicted. I never realized how much of an addiction Twitter actually was for me.

Day 2

I clicked on a link that took me to twitter. Because I was still logged in to twitter, I noticed that I had some notifications. After a moment of hesitation, I clicked on the button to see what they were about. A few new followers (probably bots), a few likes, but they feel less important than they once did. Already, after just one day without Twitter, it is starting to sink in just how pointless it is.

Day 5

After almost a week without Twitter, I’ve realized something very surprising. I have found that I am more informed of news events than I was when I was getting my news from Twitter. I was surprised by this, because Twitter has become the go-to source of news for a lot of people to announce new events, stories, blog posts, and more.

After thinking about why I feel more informed, I realized that the reason is because Twitter is too fast. While it is true that most news is announced via Twitter these days, it is also true that the same news event is tweeted, retweeted, and multiplied thousands of times. But despite that, any single news event still gets buried very quickly. So to stay informed using Twitter requires you to check in as often as once per hour, which is not very productive.

Since giving up Twitter, I’ve started using Feedly to get my news. I check it just a few times per day, and I can easily work back to review any news I’ve missed. Good old fashioned RSS feeds are still more productive than Twitter.